Crown opens its Sydney casino

By Colin Kruger /

Crown Barangaroo expects its VIP gaming facility to be fully operational by October after opening its doors for the first time at the beginning of August.
The opening of Sydney’s second casino operation comes nearly two years after the Barangaroo resort opened and a decade after billionaire James Packer launched his campaign to build an iconic resort and gambling facility for Chinese high-rollers.
Crown Barangaroo chief executive Simon McGrath said the members-only casino would open its main gaming floor, called the Crystal Room, on Monday with the more exclusive Mahogany floor expected to open in October.
“We expect to be fully open in October as we build the membership base,” McGrath said.
The gaming operation has 160 tables, plus 66 electronic tables across the Crystal Room and 30 private salons on the Mahogany floor. As a VIP-only facility, Crown Barangaroo has no poker machines. A minimum bet of $20 applies.

Membership is free and available to those that sign up to the Crown Rewards program. Existing Black and Platinum Crown Rewards members and their guests will gain initial access to the Crystal Room, followed by Gold Crown Rewards members at a later date.
Crown was forced to overhaul its board, management and procedures to satisfy the regulators, who approved a conditional licence for Crown to operate its Barangaroo casino in June. The conditional licence is valid until December 31, 2023.
Crown is still awaiting reassessment from the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority to see if it is suitable to hold an unconditional licence for Barangaroo.
McGrath reiterated Crown’s claim that the gambling business was a vital component when it came to underpinning the economics of the resort and said Crown had already received significant interest in membership.
“The level of interest has exceeded our expectations in terms of membership,” he said.
“I think we’ll be at a pretty good pace relatively quickly. However, what’s important to us is that we do that in a very safe and responsible way.”

Crown has not said what its financial targets are for the casino operation and analysts no longer cover the company following the Blackstone takeover.
In December last year, Macquarie forecast that Barangaroo could end up with 35 per cent of Sydney’s tables-based gambling market by the 2025 financial year. This is expected to be worth $923 million. Macquarie forecast VIP turnover of $10 billion by 2025.
The more immediate focus for McGrath has been ramping up Barangaroo’s resort facilities following COVID-19 lockdowns and a period of recruitment.
“We were able to achieve certain ‘business as usual’ levels of employment by March, April, which has allowed us to operate without restriction the last few months. And that’s been important in setting up this next phase of our growth as well,” McGrath said.
“We’ve been we’ve been running very high occupancy levels, but also the restaurants and bars have a very high take-up from patrons.”

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